4 July 2005
Use of the experiences of “the truth commissions”
Motion for a resolution
presented by Mr Gross and others
This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it
1. Over the last years, “truth commissions” have become a familiar conception and institution for several states emerging from a period of gross human rights abuses and the violation of the rule of law, and debating how to deal with its recent past. The first country to establish a truth commission was Argentina after the retreat of the military from power following the country’s defeat in the Falkland Islands in 1983. Other prominent examples of truth commissions include Chile, El Salvador, Uruguay, South Africa, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. The list is not exhaustive.
2. The term serves as a designation of a type of governmental body that is intended to construct a record of the tragic history. Truth commissions are established for the specific purpose of examining serious violations of human rights and democracy. Frequently, victims of violations as well as alleged violators testify before them. The investigative capacity given to commissions has ranged from extensive staff armed with legal powers to reliance on voluntary testimony which cannot be verified. Hearings have been both public and private. The reports of proceedings, summaries and conclusions, on occasions recommended changes in state institutions or structures – ultimately become public documents.
3. Reconciliation is essential to the construction of a sustainable peace. Truth commissions have the purpose of facilitating a truth recovery process. The ultimate goal is the reconciliation and the contribution to establishment of the rule of law. They can be seen as important milestones toward democracy.
4. In-depth consideration of the past experience of truth commissions in different countries may well result in useful ideas for the future. It could help to determine for example which criteria and conditions should lead a state to resort to a truth commission rather than to alternative ways of dealing with the past like prosecution or lustration; at what stage in a conflict can truth commissions best fulfil their functions; do commissions offer more risk than promise if instituted, for example, during the suspension of the violence conflict, or before a political settlement is achieved; can truth commissions be used in regional disputes that involve several countries?
5. The Council of Europe, the Organisation which stands for the human rights and the rule of law, and which has among its members countries which have emerged from the difficult past, or remain in conflict, is well placed for such a discussion.
6. Therefore the Parliamentary Assembly resolves to examine the question, elaborate a report and eventually to organise a conference on the subject.
Signed (see overleaf)
GROSS, Andreas, Switzerland, SOC
de MELO, Maria Manuela, Portugal, SOC
de ZULUETA, Tana, Italy, SOC
KOSACHEV, Konstantin, Russia, EDG
LACHNIT, Petr, Czech Republic, SOC
LAMBERT, Geert, Belgium, SOC
LINDBLAD, GŲran, Sweden, EPP/CD
LINDINGER, Ewald, Austria, SOC
MARTY, Dick, Switzerland, ALDE
MIHKELSON, Marko, Estonia, EPP/CD
MOTA AMARAL, Jo„o Bosco, Portugal, EPP/CD
OHLSSON, Carina, Sweden, SOC
ōSTERGAARD, Morten, Denmark, ALDE
÷ZAL, İbrahim, Turkey, EPP/CD
SEVERIN, Adrian, Romania, SOC
SEVERINSEN, Hanne, Denmark, ALDE
SEYIDOV, Samad, Azerbaijan, EDG
SKARPH…–INSSON, ÷ssur, Iceland, SOC
SZAB”, ZoltŠn, Hungary, SOC
WIELOWIEYSKI, Andrzej, Pologne, EPP/CD
1 SOC: Socialist Group
EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party
ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
EDG: European Democratic Group
UEL: Group of the Unified European Left
NR: not registered in a group